California News

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Cal Fire cadets fired for drinking will get their jobs back

Most of the California state firefighters who were fired last year because they drank alcohol during a training academy will return to work in 2018, according to Cal Fire and their union. Cal Fire in April announced that 17 firefighters would be dismissed from state service because they violated a code of conduct during their seven-week academy by drinking alcohol after hours. They’re supposed to stay sober through the training, except on weekends. Cal Fire agreed to reduce the punishment to an eight-month suspension for eight of the firefighters, the department said. Two of them receive a one-year suspension instead of dismissal. Two more cadets are still fighting their punishment and are expected to appear before the State Personnel Board next month. The others resigned or did not contest their dismissals. Cal Fire since a 2014 scandal in which an instructor murdered his girlfriend has tried to change a persistent partying culture that took root at its academy in Amador County.
Sacramento Bee

Firefighters Sue California Gas Company Over Massive Leak

Firefighters who worked in and around the site of a massive natural gas leak sued the Southern California Gas Co. on Monday, saying the utility knowingly let them be exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals. A blowout in a well at the underground Aliso Canyon storage field about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Los Angeles was discovered on Oct. 23, 2015, and took nearly four months to cap after spewing immense amounts of methane into the air. It was the largest known natural gas leak in United States history. First responders said they went to the storage field and nearby communities without any protective gear because they were assured by Southern California Gas that there was no danger, according to the suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. In fact, the utility knew that the gas contained cancer-causing benzene and formaldehyde, according to the suit.
NBC Los Angeles

Firefighters Rescue Man Who Fell Down Empty Elevator Shaft in Downtown Los Angeles

Rescuers were able to hoist a man who fell down an empty elevator shaft at an apartment building under construction in downtown Los Angeles Monday night, officials said. The man, who had plunged as many as 30 feet down the shaft, was taken to the hospital for treatment of facial trauma that was not life-threatening, the L.A. Fire Department said in an alert. Firefighters responded to the 500 block of North Hill Street around 8:40 p.m. after the man was found by security officer who patrols the building, Battalion Chief Steven Skelly told KTLA. Using a ladder and litter basket stretcher, crews were able to retrieve the man by about 9:15 p.m. “The resources on scene were able to evaluate him and package him up, put him in spinal mobilization and have him transported to an area hospital,” Skelly said.
KTLA-TV WB 5 Los Angeles

Tree in Tustin falls on car, kills woman inside

A woman was killed inside of a car that was crushed by a large falling tree in Tustin. It happened amid dangerously high winds slamming many parts of the Southland Monday. Orange County Fire Authority firefighters responded to the 14000 block of Red Hill Avenue at about 9:15 a.m. Fire officials said the eucalyptus tree fell onto the vehicle, dwarfing the car underneath and killing the 34-year-old victim inside. The coroner's office identified the victim as Dennet Bermas of Tustin. Her family members say they called her "Denden." Family members said she was a nurse at an assisted living facility and was on her way to work when the tragedy happened. A neighbor told Eyewitness News that he had said "hi" to Bermas just moments before the incident. He said he heard a loud snapping and crashing sound before running over to help.
KFMB-AM 760 San Diego

Officials reveal some new details on what may have sparked the Ferguson Fire

U.S. Forest Service officials investigating the cause of this summer’s Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County said evidence now points to some type of truck or large vehicle. Stanton Florea, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, said the overheated pieces of catalytic converter responsible for the 96,901-acre Mariposa County blaze that burned for more than a month between July and August were relatively large, leading investigators to believe it came from a truck or a larger vehicle. “It could still have been a sedan, it’s just not as likely based on the pieces that were there,” Florea said. Still, he said, fire investigators encouraged anyone with information to come forward regardless of whether it may contradict findings released to the public so far. “Our biggest thing is soliciting information from the public,” he said.
San Luis Obispo County Tribune

San Diego firefighters battle two-alarm building fire near Belmont Park in Mission Beach

One person was hospitalized Tuesday after a two-alarm fire broke out at a mixed use building in the Mission Beach area, authorities said. The blaze broke out shortly before 6:55 a.m. at a multi-story mixed use building at 712 Ventura Place near Belmont Park, San Diego Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. Crews arrived at the building, which has residential units on top of businesses, and knocked down the flames in around 30 minutes, Munoz said. One person was transported to UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest, Munoz said. The extent of the victim’s injuries was not immediately available. A Dreyer’s Ice Cream shop at the location was damaged as well as a restaurant near the building, Munoz said, adding that a structural engineer was requested to assess the damage. According to Munoz, damage to the structure is estimated at $2 million and damage estimate to the contents is $750 thousand dollars.
KUSI-TV San Diego

Monday, October 15, 2018

At least 40 hurt as bus goes through median on 405 Fwy in San Fernando Valley

A bus crashed into several vehicles and went through the center median of the San Diego (405) Freeway in the heart of the San Fernando Valley on Sunday, injuring 40 people -- five of them seriously. A total of 25 people were taken out via ambulances, many to Olive View Hospital in Sylmar. The CHP reported that some were bleeding. Serious injuries were treated on three women, ages 49, 60 and 88, as well as two men, ages 30 and 69, said Margaret Stewart of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Six other patients were in fair condition with minor injuries. "The 'serious' condition classification is due to the severity of damage to the vehicles and potential unseen injuries," she said. Fifteen minutes after the crash, fire trucks were reportedly stuck in traffic, trying to get past clogged traffic en route to the multiple crashes on the 405 Freeway near Nordhoff Street.
KTTV-TV MyFox 11 Los Angeles

Fire chief to retire after 38 years of service, overseeing the merging of Brea/Fullerton command staff

Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe, leader of the Fullerton and Brea departments, said he will retire Dec. 29 to pursue other opportunities. Deputy Chief of Operations Adam Loeser will be the next chief for the two departments, which function independently but share a command staff. He has handled day-to-day operations for the departments since 2015. Knabe has served as Fullerton’s fire chief since 2005. When the two cities merged their command staffs in 2011 to save money, he became Brea’s chief as well. Combined the departments have more than 130 employees. “Right now, I think, is a good time because both departments are run very well,” Knabe said. “Everything’s aligned for success at this time.” Knabe launched the Urban Search and Rescue program for the departments. He also navigated the departments through cuts, part of the cities’ broader budget reduction. “Nobody wanted to do it,” he said.
Orange County Register - Metered Site

Sheriff’s Deputy in Hot Pursuit Crashes Into Bodega Bay Home, Setting It Ablaze

VIDEO - Both directions of Highway 1 near Bodega Bay in unincorporated Sonoma County have reopened after a solo-vehicle crash involving a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle and a house fire, the California Highway Patrol said. The crash occurred shortly after 5 a.m. in the 600 block of Highway 1 near Smith Brothers Road, authorities said. A Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputy was pursuing a vehicle suspected in recent thefts when he crashed into the home, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The suspect vehicle was traveling at speeds of 90 to 100 mph.The deputy was able to escape the car and, along with another deputy, helped residents evacuate the home. Shortly thereafter, the patrol car and home caught fire. No one in the home was injured. The injured deputy was taken to a hospital and is expected to fully recover.
KPIX-TV CBS 5 San Francisco

Los Angeles firefighter set to receive national valor award for rescuing children

A Redondo Union alumnus – turned Los Angeles firefighter is being honored with a prestigious national award for his courage under literal fire. Bryce Gutierrez, 28, is set to accept the 2017 Michael O. McNamee Award of Valor on Oct. 18 in Nashville, Tenn, according to Firehouse Magazine. Gutierrez, who has been with the Los Angeles Fire Department for five years, is receiving the award for his courageous rescue of four small children from a structure fire at a South Central Los Angeles bungalow in 2017. He said receiving the award is a huge honor but that it was just another day in the line of duty. “That’s why we do what we do: to save lives,” Gutierrez said. A member of LAFD Task Force 33, Gutierrez and his team responded to the call for the Jan. 16, 2017 blaze. He had to forcibly enter the property through a rear-window after all other points of entry were deemed unsafe.
Torrance Daily Breeze

Fire risk prompts PG&E to cut power to 42,000 homes in Sierra foothills – even more may go dark

PG&E said in a news release that it made its decision based on a number factors, including the Red Flag Warnings issued by the National Weather Service this weekend, and reports from its crews in the affected areas. While the warning is effective through 11 p.m. Monday, the extremely low humidity from the weekend and forecast downslope winds coming from the east made for particularly dangerous conditions Sunday night, said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist for the service at its Sacramento office. “We’re expecting very strong winds tonight,” he said. “Normally at night, humidities increase and usually the temperatures drop, which tends to improve fire weather conditions, but the winds actually helped keep the temperatures warmer and the relative humidity higher. It kind of works together, especially with the downslope wind.” Shoemaker said winds being pushed down the mountain to areas such as Placerville, Colfax and Jackson, as well as towns farther north along the foothills including Oroville and Nevada City, were expected to be between 15 and 30 mph through the night, with some localized gusts reaching 55 mph.
Sacramento Bee

Volunteer fire chief helps Napa County town through tough times

When the alarm bell rings in the Napa County town of Angwin, J.R. Rogers drops everything and is usually one of the first to answer the call. Rogers, 33, is associate vice president for student life at Pacific Union College and volunteers as fire chief of the Angwin Fire Department, one of several stations staffed entirely by unpaid firefighters throughout rural areas of the county. He supervises a staff of 39 volunteer firefighters, many of whom are on the faculty or are employees and students at the small college. Rogers, who grew up in Redlands (San Bernardino County) and moved to Angwin to attend Pacific Union College, graduated with a bachelor of science in film and television in 2007. As a student, he was encouraged to join the all-volunteer Fire Department. “A close friend of mine was on the department and recommended that I do it,” Rogers says. “I thought it sounded like fun and was every little boy’s dream, so why not? I had no idea it would catapult me into a life of emergency response.”
SF Gate: San Francisco Chronicle

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